Registering a Brand Name in India: The Procedure and PreparationNovember 3, 2022 By Dinesh Parmar
Naming a business is as special as naming a child, you spend days and months deciding upon a name, want it to sound unique, and ultimately register it. So, if you want to name your business after you or someone's name or have a name on mind, you must trademark it, and to help you with that, we bring to you a complete guide about brand name registration in India.
The Brand Name Dilemma
Coining a name for your business may hurt your brain because as said before, you spend days or even months finding a distinctive name for it that will make you stand out among the crowd. Where some consult an astrologer or a numerologist for suggestions that will bring success to their business, some decide to use their family name; whatever the case may be, registering it is a must to avoid someone from using yours and to prevent yourself from using others. Confused?
Since, the business you are about to start or the product you are planning to sell is something that's already in the market, coming up with a name for your brand and registering it may become extremely difficult because chances of duplicity are high when it comes to names. Someone in the same or even a different field might be running the business by this time with the same name that came to your mind. In that case, you will be the one who is infringing on a registered trademark. Therefore, to avoid both scenarios, you must trademark your brand name.
Trademark? Brand Name Registration? Same or Different?
Although often used interchangeably, the terms “trademark” and “brand,” each has very important distinctions. Where a brand represents your image and business what the public sees and thinks about your company, a trademark legally protects specific aspects of your brand means it is a unique identifier for you. In short, registering your brand as a whole is different than just brand name registration which falls under trademarking. Please allow us to clarify.
Trademark Registration is an intellectual property registration done to protect a brand's character, identity, personality, essence, culture, and reputation by legally safeguarding all important aspects of a brand such as brand name, signatures, words, symbols, unique labeling, color schemes, packaging, movements, sounds or sensory experiences, etc. Thus, to register or trademark your brand name under the Trademark Act of India, you can either file it under your company’s name or if haven’t a registered one then can use your personal name for filing and then transfer the same to your company’s name later.
Now, let’s see the steps that you need to follow to successfully register your brand name.
The Preparation for Brand Name Registration In India
You must meet the eligibility and fulfill the expectations if you want to trademark your brand name without any rejections or objections.
By eligibility we mean;
- Any person claiming to be the owner of the trademark, be it an individual, company, proprietor, or legal entity is eligible to apply for brand name registration in India.
By expectations we mean;
- You just cannot announce your brand name on the spot to register it. You must be ready with your brand name or logo to be registered after verification for similarity with already existing brands.
- A trademark must be any of the following - a name (including personal or surname of the applicant or predecessor in business or the signature of the person); a coined, invented, or arbitrary dictionary word or words not directly describing the quality or character of the goods or services; alphanumeric or letters or numerals or any combination thereof; image, symbol, monograms, 3-dimensional shapes, letters, etc.; sound marks in audio format.
- You must submit the necessary documents required for filing a Trademark application such as - a copy of the Trademark or logo, personal details of the applicant, goods or services to be registered, and date of first use of the trademark in India if used by you prior to applying.
- Power of attorney to be signed by the applicant, etc.
The Procedure for Registering a Brand Name in India
Step 1 - Begin with a trademark search
Before registering your trademark, be prepared to invest a good amount of your time in brainstorming and shortlisting a few trademark names and you must also make sure that someone is not running a business by the same name already. So, be prepared for heartbreak because chances are the name you loved and wished to have for your business might be a registered brand already. How to do that?
Generally, the trademark agent or attorney carries out this search with the Trademark Office to confirm there is no similar trademark registered in that class or you can do it yourself by visiting the government site IP India Online and running a check until you find a name that is not yet registered. A quick piece of advice - it would be better if you do both offline and online searches just to be double-sure.
Step 2 - Trademark classification and document search
Classifying your trademark under the right class is an important step and hence must be done right. It is advisable to seek the help of an experienced trademark lawyer in categorizing your goods & services under a particular trademark class to avoid any roadblocks later.
Once you are clear about the above, the next step is to gather all the essential documents for filing your trademark application. From your identity and business proof, documents related to your business, company registration proofs, brand/logo/tagline (slogan name) to be trademarked, Form 48 (an affidavit wherein you give the rights to the lawyer or filing company to apply to carry out trademark registration on your behalf), to any other applicable document according to your business, you must keep everything ready to avoid running for it later.
Step 3 - Filing of trademark application
You have done your search, gathered your documents, and are all set then waste no time and file your trademark application along with the supporting documents and prescribed government fee for trademark registration to get the most-awaited mark - “TM” on your brand name.
Based on the results of the trademark search, your trademark lawyer will draft a trademark application which you can file manually at the appropriate trademark registry with the Trademark Registrar, the waiting period for which is 2-3 days for confirmation. However, if you don't have that much patience then you can opt for e-filing where the acknowledgment is immediate. Once your application is filed, within a few days, you can start using the “TM” symbol provided that your business name/logo is unique.
Step 4 - Trademark registration
After the successful application of your trademark registration, the qualified examiners at the Trademarks Office will begin the examination of your application to check if the brand name conflicts with an existing name and the law or is hurting the sentiments of a certain group of people. If any similarity or controversy is found, a trademark objection will be raised in response to which you will be required to file a reply within 30 days.
If further your reply is found unsatisfactory, the Trademark Registry may issue a trademark hearing in the matter where the applicant is given an opportunity to justify that his/her brand name is unique and distinctive to the trademark officer. The notice of the trademark hearing will be then issued to the applicant's address provided in the application in addition to uploading the same to the portal. If summoned, the applicant may be required to appear in person or with their agent or lawyer to request that the trademark application proceeds toward brand name registration in India.
On the contrary, if no objection is found, your brand name will be published in the Indian Trade Mark Journal for all parties to see and raise a dispute if they find it similar to theirs, the timeframe for the same is 90 to 120 days from the date of publication. If no one objects within that period, your trademark will be registered around six months later. Till that time, you can keep tracking the trademark status updates of your application. In short, it will take about 8 to 24 months to complete the entire formalities of your brand name registration in India.
At last, when you get the green signal for your trademark application, a trademark certificate will be issued to you after which you can add the ® (Registered symbol) next to your brand name for others to state that your brand is a registered trademark. Once registered your trademark will be valid for 10 years from the date of filing, which can be renewed from time to time.
The fee structure set by the government for trademark registration according to the size of the business is as follows:
- Rs. 4,500/- in case of Individual/ Startup/ Small Enterprise
- Rs. 9,000/- for Large and other enterprises
Should You Go Through This?
Indeed trademark registration is a lengthy process but it is something you must do because trademark registration comes with its own benefits.
- Your trademark will be a valuable asset for your company and add to its goodwill.
- It will give you exclusive rights to prevent others from using your trademarked company name/logo in relation to the goods or services for which it is registered if you have a registered trademark.
- Trademarking will give you legal protection for your brand name.
- It will allow you to sell, license, or assign your trademark to others.
- It ensures that the origin of goods and services is known.
- It encourages further purchases.
- The symbol or registered trademark will make it easy for you to advertise your service or product.
- It serves as a badge of loyalty and affiliation.
In a Nutshell
With businesses emerging every now and then both offline and online, you cannot rule out the need for trademarking your business name because the chances of misusing your brand name become easy and high otherwise.
Since the whole process is a bit head-spinning, it is better to seek the help of an experienced trademark law firm like us Parker and Parker Co. LLP to sort out everything about your brand registration right from trademark search, filling out the application, handling objections, resolving disputes, to tracking the registration status, smoothly and efficiently.